Living in a multicultural city I have never really considered my Muslim, Jewish, Sikh or Buddhist neighbour as anything other than another faith pilgrim. Yes one who has chosen a different path from myself but one who is searching for truth and peace and understanding to be the guiding lights in their own lives. Indeed I have a Buddhist who regularly comes and worships in one of my churches; also when I was the chaplain at St Mary’s Cathedral I regularly chatted to the local Muslims who would come into pray, valuing the peace of the building and recognising God dwelt there. I remember one day as a particular Muslim left the building he waved to me as he headed out the door saying: ‘May your prophet bless you.’ I felt blessed.
When the news broke that St John’s, Aberdeen was welcoming Muslims into the church as the local Mosque was overflowing I thought good on Rev Isaac Poobalan and his vestry. Indeed I was instantly reminded of Sunday’s Gospel reading and the generosity of Mary, for it is indeed a generous act. However it would appear the story has taken a rather nasty turn as there are those who, as is all too often the case with generosity, don’t like it.
St John’s and Isaac have shown generosity in their faith, generosity in the use of their buildings, generosity in who their neighbours are, generosity in the grace they have dealt with the criticism they have received from certain quarters. They have broken the jar and the perfume is filling this land and some people just don’t like its smell, for it would seem they would rather smell the stale smell of intolerance which isn’t as costly.
Well Isaac I think the smell is absolutely glorious and you are all in my prayers.